The USC Trojans had to know what was coming. The Washington State Cougars like to shoot 3-pointers. Coach Kyle Smith encourages that. Wazzu looks for openings in which to shoot 3-pointers. The analytics tell teams to shoot threes, and Washington State embraces the modern approach to basketball reflected by Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
When USC escaped Washington State last February in a tight game won on a Boogie Ellis jumper, Wazzu hit 15 of 31 3-pointers. The Cougars didn’t do much in the paint. They didn’t outmuscle or overpower USC. They shot the long ball. It’s what they do.
As USC prepared for this game on Sunday in Pullman, it had to know what to expect.
The Trojans weren’t ready. Washington State hit 10 threes in the first half and finished 14 of 29 in the game, scoring 81 points and beating the Trojans, 81-71, on Friel Court inside Beasley Coliseum.
USC just doesn’t have the talent or elite playmaking to win a game when the opponent makes 14 triples and shoots nearly 50 percent from 3-point range. USC has to win with its effort, its defense, and its ability to muck the game up. Washington State’s offense flowed freely for most of the game. USC made a brief rally in the second half to get within seven, but the margin for error was zero. A sequence of three turnovers led to some WSU baskets. The deficit expanded back to 13, and that was all she wrote.